RVS Indigenous Games: Reconciliation Through Physical Activity

RVS Indigenous Games: Reconciliation Through Physical Activity

Learning Design Specialist – The Rocky View Schools Indigenous Games were hosted by Elizabeth Barrett Elementary, Manachaban Middle School and Cochrane High School (with support from Jumpstart Canada) on May 24, 2018. The purpose of these games was to promote Indigenous history and culture, and to provide Elders an opportunity to share their culture and history through storytelling and ceremonies.

Prior to the games, Elizabeth Barrett students researched Canadian Indigenous Games and created posters, which were then presented to Manachaban Middle School students. The day of the event began with a blessing and a smudge by Elder Virgil Stephens and a lesson on the history and the purpose of Indigenous Games from Joseph Makinaw of the Stoney Nakoda Nation. Once the games got under way, Cochrane High School physical education students led 30 different stations of Indigenous Games and activities for over 850 elementary and middle school students. Because the Games were non-competitive and interactive, all 850 kids got to enjoy the sunshine and physical activity outside. Next year, these schools hope to expand the Games to other schools.

With the success of this day, it begs the question, wouldn’t it be amazing to not only have a division-wide track meet, but also a divisional Rocky View Schools Indigenous Games Day as well?

Living Local Gala: Making Learning Visible

Living Local Gala: Making Learning Visible

Learning Design Specialist – John Hattie said, “When teaching and learning are visible, there is a greater likelihood of students reaching higher levels of achievement.” The RVS Learning Design Team embraces the idea of making learning visible using a design process in which students empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, and share their learning.

After hosting four successful cohorts this year (Rocky View Productions, #UXRVS, Rocky View Maker and RVS Living Local), we felt it was about time to bring the amazing work that both came out of the cohorts, and what was already happening in the division, to light!

On Tuesday, June 5, 2018, the Learning Design Team hosted the Living Local Gala Exhibition. As with many prototypes, we erred on the side of caution, as we were unsure what the uptake would be like for the day… and wow! Rocky View teachers and students really stepped up!

The Gala began with 23 Grade 5 students from Herons Crossing School recording RockyTalks that they each wrote, reflecting on their Changemaker experiences. Afterwards, their teachers, Kendra Jewer and Kate Pike, reflected on their own perspectives as designers of the learning opportunities they provided the students. These engaging RockyTalks were followed by a panel discussion about “The Farm”, an innovative new project we are currently developing in RVS, in which students from Grades 7 through 12 will learn and work on a farm!

While all these filmed discussions were taking place, other student projects were showcased, demonstrated, discussed, and celebrated. The evening was a flurry of excitement, as students, parents, and teachers explored incredible products of student learning. Students were able to discuss the processes of making, creating, and doing in a variety of modes. Guests were able to engage with digital resources, hands on activities, virtual reality, student demonstrations, visuals, and physical projects. The degree to which students had opportunities to make choices about their learning and voice their opinions about the direction and products of that learning were incredible. Their confidence was astounding.

We look forward to making next year’s exhibitions even bigger and better! Mark your calendars for the Winter Gala on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, and Spring Design Gala on Wednesday, June 5, 2019. Keep them in mind as you have kids in your classes do great things throughout the year. We would love to help you show them off!

Cochrane Games: Encouraging Wellness in RVS

Cochrane Games: Encouraging Wellness in RVS

Learning Design Specialist – Rocky View Schools has an ongoing relationship with Jumpstart Canada, an organization supported by local Canadian Tire Stores across the country, to encourage active living and community sport programs. This February, Jumpstart Canada provided the opportunity for over 300 students to attend the “Cochrane Games” at the Spray Lakes Family Recreation Centre. The day started with an opening ceremony, including dancers and a blessing from T’suu T’ina elders, followed by four hours of activities, during which students from six different schools took part in such events as skating, kickboxing, dance, soccer, zumba, dance and obstacle course. The day was a huge success with smiles all around, even in -35ºC weather. This success led to the inevitability of a second games to be held this May. This day promises to be bigger and better than the last. With the weather heating up it will be possible to go outside as well, supporting even more students in their fitness endeavors!

Jumpstart Canada is a very encouraging partner in the RVS community, lending support to over 20 schools focusing on physical literacy initiatives throughout the division. Data shows school-aged children and youth, 13 per cent of boys and six per cent of girls, accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily. (Stats Canada, 2017). Being at school over 50 per cent of the day, students need to get up and moving, and not just in gym class. With their backing, alongside dedicated teachers, admin, parents, and community partners, nearly 10,000 students have been more active within the school environment. Campaigns include: family activity nights, recreation centre passes in the library, in-school circuit rooms and leadership sport camps (to name a few).

We look forward to furthering the relationship with Jumpstart, and creating even more active and healthy schools in Rocky View. Stay tuned for more information on the May Cochrane Games, and check out the video from the February event.

For more information on pursuing wellness in Rocky View schools, visit the Making Learning Visible website.

What Do You Make?

What Do You Make?

Learning Design Specialist – In preparation for the Learning Design Maker Cohort, we thought it would be interesting to ask teachers, “What do you make and why?” Tough question! Immediately I put on my teacher hat and thought, “Well, I make awesome lessons, labs and fun projects because… curriculum!”

And then I thought about what making really is: making is finding creative solutions to unique problems. Teachers are designers of learning; we are here to design for our students and to learn alongside them. One way teachers can create authentic experiences that are fun, engaging and real, is to come up with interesting and relevant challenges for kids to solve. In making, students rise to the challenge by creating authentic, high quality products. They will be engaged, reflective, collaborative, and feel accomplished. During the Learning Design cohort, our goal was to generate engagement by encouraging teachers to make something they were proud of.

The modern maker movement is about making high quality products for an authentic audience or consumer. Whether a person knits a blanket to give as a baby gift or bakes cookies for coworkers to enjoy, creating a high-quality product worth sharing is the essence of making. When a student produces something that they take no pride in, either because they lacked the skill to reach a level of quality they could be proud of, or the product has no consumer beyond a teacher who will grade it, the engagement can be limited. When students have an opportunity to create products that are meaningful to them, that they can be proud of, and that can be shared with an authentic audience, making becomes magical! Teachers don’t have to be experts. Being willing to pose a question and learn alongside students can be just as powerful. Providing an opportunity for students to explain, exhibit or show off to parents, industry or local government adds even more to the experience.

Making requires more than knowledge and some remembering. It often requires deeper understanding, reflection, and an application of knowledge. And isn’t that the goal of teaching – to create authentic learning experiences that drive students to be engaged learners ready for problems of the future? So what are you making?

Inspiring and Driving Education

Inspiring and Driving Education

Learning Design Specialist – A couple of weeks ago, the Learning Design Team and the École Edwards Administration Team visited Ted Talk guru, Gever Tulley, at Brightworks School in order to understand his philosophy and to help inspire the Maker Space Movement at Edwards.

A self-taught software engineer, Tulley created a summer program called Tinkering School in 2005. The Tinkering School’s program provides children with a week-long overnight experience at a ranch outside of San Francisco. Participants are engaged in large projects, like designing a working roller coaster, constructing a rope bridge made out of plastic bags, or furnishing a three-story tree house. In 2011, Tulley opened Brightworks School, bringing the Tinkering School approach to a formal education setting, thus allowing students to learn through hands-on inquiry, facilitated by teachers, each and every day. Tulley explained that his school can best be described as, “lifelong play based kindergarten combined with the inspiration and questioning of graduate school.”

Brightworks develops their phenomenological approach to learning through “Arcs of Learning.” Every arc is divided into three phases of study: exploration (discover and explore deeply), expression (create meaningful representations of learning) and exposition (showcase and exhibit creations to authentic audiences).

The students at Brightworks are grouped into 10 bands based on maturity level (not age), each focusing on the same thematic arcs. This year’s arcs are: coins, fabrics and cities. Classes have an interdisciplinary focus and make use of community partners, experts and field trips whenever possible. With all students exploring the same arcs, collaboration between bands and ages is natural, and students serve as inspiration to one another.

The use of phenomenological arcs is based on the neuroscientific notion that everything in the brain is connected, and that learning is ultimately about creating connections and relationships between a variety of ideas and concepts. The arcs allow teachers to first explore the topic with their band through what Tulley calls, “facipulation” (facilitated manipulation) that guides students toward understanding the outcomes that teachers identify prior to learning, as well as co-learning along with the students. After exploration, students move into expression, where they participate in workshops to identify, design, and prototype ways to express their learning. Developing empathy and social understanding is also an important part of this phase. Finally, Brightworks hosts a one-week exhibition, during which families and community members are invited to view the work completed during the arc, and where students reflect on their experiences.

One of our insights from this visit was the notion that teachers should be co-learners alongside their students. Tulley mentioned that he started Tinkering School and Brightworks because he felt that kids were being educated primarily to be consumers, and not creators or manipulators of the environments they live in. By allowing students to express their understanding in ways that are meaningful to each individual, by trying, failing, fixing, and retrying, not only do students learn and understand more deeply, they can also apply the process later in life to remain lifelong learners.

Moving forward, the École Edwards administration will be using what they gleaned from the experience to inform the development and use of their maker space and the mindset that needs to be fostered built with it. The inspiration and direction gained from Brightworks will drive their design forward, and hopefully encourage lifelong learning, collaboration, and deeper understanding in their students.

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